Google has been asking employees to return to offices after the number of Covid-19 cases started plummeting. But chief executive officer of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, Sundar Pichai has now decided to delay it amid rise in cases of Delta variant in the United States. In an email to employees, the CEO said that decision to call employees to the office has now been delayed until October 18. He also emphasized that all those who will come to the office need to be vaccinated. The company has over 130,000 employees and it wants all of them to get vaccinated on priority. Google and several other companies have been encouraging employees to get vaccinated. But they have now adopted a harder line. Facebook has also joined Google to issue mandates of their own.
This is the second time when the tech giant has delayed its return to office amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Initially, the company had allowed employees to work from remote locations till August and asked them to report to the office from September 1. The company had asked employees to work in offices for at least three days a week. However, the company has now decided to delay the planned return-to-office. “We are excited that we have started to re-open our offices. Google is encouraging employees who are comfortable coming to offices that are already opened. But at the same time, we have noticed that many of us are concerned about the increase in the number of cases of Delta variant,” Pichai said in his email. He said that all the data is being carefully monitored by the company and employees will be informed at least a month in advance before transitioning into full work-from-office mode. Pichai said that the company would allow work from home for the remaining of the year in ‘special circumstances.’ The development comes as cases are on the rise in all 50 states. The contagious variant of Covid-19 is spreading and those who have not received Covid-19 vaccines are at greater risk.
Despite the setback in its efforts to reopen offices, Pichai sounded optimistic about work-from-office plans. “I am filled with optimism after seeing several Googlers in the offices. I am looking forward to brighter days. We will take all necessary steps that are required to ensure that employees feel safe when they return to offices,” he said. However, it is not clear what will Google do in case of employees who are not able to get vaccinated due to some reasons. Earlier, Apple too had to delay its return-to-office plant. Amid a fresh rise in a number of cases, several companies have stated that employees need to show proof of vaccination before returning to offices. The state of California recently said that workers are required to show proof of vaccination by August 2. Other companies too have issued similar mandates.
Facebook vice president of people Lori Goler said that getting vaccinated would be necessary for those returning to US campuses. Goler said that there will be a process for those employees who are not able to receive Covid-19 vaccines because of medical or other reasons. Meanwhile, the vaccination rate has slowed down in the United States. While on average 3.4 million vaccines were distributed in mid-April, it has seen a decrease of around 80 percent in recent weeks. The number of vaccines distributed per day now stands at 590,000. This is despite the fact that vaccines are no easily available. Earlier, several companies, including McDonald’s, launched campaigns to encourage people to get vaccinated at the earliest.